Friday, December 24, 2010

Looking back on two years ago today - Try these nutrition lifestyle habits for yourself!

Maintaining this blog has been so encouraging for me - It's wonderful to look back and see goals I set for my diet and lifestyle and then compare them to how I'm doing today.

Here's what I wrote two years ago today, and these six things that I was "planning" to do in order to achieve my weight loss and fitness goals are exactly what I'm doing in my current regime. Here's what I said "I plan to" do:

1. Eat six times per day and in smaller portions to avoid crashes that lead to cravings

2. Prepare meals ahead of time to make sure I have healthy food ready when I get hungry

3. Incorporate "power foods" like almonds, yogurt, berries, oatmeal and whole grains that will help me maximize my calorie intake for energy and stamina

4. Eat more fiber-rich foods to make me full faster

5. Eat foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients, especially antioxidants

6. Reduce my salt and sugar intake, and eat more fruit to satisfy my sweet tooth while avoiding empty calories

Well, this has turned out to be a pretty good plan!!!! I didn't make all of these changes at once, but for the past year this has been the nutrition lifestyle I've been able to achieve.

I would recommend these six lifestyle habits to anyone attempting to make positive health changes in the new year. Good luck!!!

Fitness and nutrition regime on point

This week I've been off work so I've been hitting the gym harder than ever. Three days of double workouts and three days of the regular fare. I'm getting more rest and eating more to compensate, and I feel great!

Today I got the materials for my correspondence course on fitness and exercise. I'm doing the certified personal trainer program through ACE - American Council on Exercise. Just flipped through the books and am thinking, wow, I have a sh*tload to learn!

I'm sitting at Panera having a cup of chicken noodle soup and Greek salad with grilled chicken. I love this meal, although I don't have it as much as I used to now that Khizer and I are cooking more at home. Our nutrition is on point, and I feel fueled at every moment throughout the day.

We have our protein-packed breakfast of Ezekiel 4:9 Golden Flax cereal and 2% milk, with a fried egg over a slice of Arnold Double Fiber toast.

Then for the mid morning snacks we have assorted nuts, dried fruits and seeds and 2% Cabot Greek Yogurt with frozen organic mixed berries.

For lunch we have quinoa and peas with some other main dish, like soup or curry packed with an assortment of leafy green and root veggies, and a couple of side veggies raw, like celery, grape tomatoes, carrots or broccoli.

The afternoon snack is usually an apple and a banana, and maybe some more quinoa if there's an afternoon workout thrown in. And dinner is a lighter version of lunch, usually just the quinoa with a bit of curry or cup of soup.

This routine has us feeling strong and with tons of energy throughout the day. We wake up early and try to get to bed before midnight, but admittedly our one nutritional weakness at this point is getting enough rest. Rest is just as important to the body and mind as the food we eat, so it's definitely got to be one of our resolutions in the new year to be more mindful of this.

Well, that's it for now. I'm going to be studying the ACE materials pretty hard over the next week or so. I have a lot of work to do to prepare for the new semester, too. I'm teaching that Overcoming Obesity class and preparing my motivational talk. I also have a new class in the social sciences department at MDC starting - Seminar for Student Success. I'm psyched for the new year, and am so thankful that God has given me the strength to accomplish so many of my personal goals in 2010.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not Michael Vick Naked

Playgirl apparently wants to publish photos of Michael Vick naked. They'll give the money they would pay him to PETA, I guess to make up for the horrible, cruel things he's done to animals. The whole thing just makes me sick, and it's got me thinking. Who would you rather see, me or Michael Vick naked? I mean, sure, he’s got a much better body than I do - he’s a professional athlete for pete’s sake! But would you really want to see Michael Vick naked, instead of me, knowing how he's treated animals?

Me on the other hand, I treat animals with kindness and respect. Doesn’t that make me the one you should want to see naked? I mean, seeing Michael Vick naked – ew. Seeing me naked, less ew. Right?

Either way, you’re not going to see Michael Vick naked here, or me naked for that matter. (For this, you can thank me now or later). No, I’m just writing this silly little article because I wanted to try to see if by stating Michael Vick naked I would “optimize” the chance my humble fitness blog is picked up on more Google searches.

Not that I have a specific interest in inviting folks who want to see Michael Vick naked to my blog. But I figure there might be a bunch of people who want to see Michael Vick naked. And people who want to see Michael Vick naked are people, too. So what’s the harm if people who want to see Michael Vick naked come to my blog. They just might be interested in my struggle to overcome obesity.

Then, people who want to see Michael Vick naked might actually have a chance to see a guy who’s physically hot like Michael Vick naked, but who’s not Michael Vick naked or just some random pic of a person who looks like Michael Vick naked on a dirty porn site online.

If anyone reading this has any tips on search engine optimization for me, please leave a comment!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's wrong to resist resistance (training, that is)

I don't do cardio. Really. I've lost more than 145 pounds without doing more than 15 minutes total on a treadmill, stationary bike or eliptical machine. Now, I do sometimes ride my bike for pleasure. And a few times a month I rollerblade. But in the gym, it's all about resistance training for me.

I don't plan on ramping up the cardio anytime in the near future, either. The reasons for this are simple: 1) I hate cardio, 2) I've read a lot about how resistance helps build muscle which in turn burns fat, and 3) I have consistantly been losing weight without focusing on cardio, so why should I start now?

Well, to be honest, I'm open to cardio and will do it vigorously if and when I need to. I have changed up my routine constantly in order to keep my body guessing as to what physical challenge is coming next. And I know as I'm now nearing my goal there will most definitely be new challenges for me in the coming months.

But for now I'm going to continue to do my resistance training at the gym. I'll be sharing more about my workouts in the future. And certainly if I get any requests from my readers I'll get to this more quickly than I otherwise might. But for now, let me just say that for those of you who dread spending hours and hours each week doing cardio, let me free you and say that you will probably get much better results from your weight loss efforts if you switch your focus from cardio to resistance training with weights.

And don't worry if you don't really know what you're doing in the gym; it's not as complicated as it seems. This book can get you started: Men's Health, The Big Book of Exercises. It's full of illustrations and descriptions of all sorts of exercises for all parts of the body, and there's a version for men and one just for women. So check it out, and good luck!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dealing with destructive doubt

I'm an optimistic person by nature. And I'm a kind person. But I've often failed to be kind to myself. And when it comes to my weight, and self-image in general, I've often failed to extend to myself the same optimistic attitude I share so freely with others.

Sometimes, when I say something to others in an optimistic way, there are undercurrents of doubt just below the surface. These undercurrents remain just under the skin and are well hidden from casual observers. But if you come in close, and get a careful look, you can see them. They're not pretty. And they can be downright destructive, which is why I keep them hidden, especially from myself.

Reading back through my blog, which I started in December 2008, I can see those undercurrents in my writing. I can read between the lines of my own writing. And that's why I'm so amazed that I've made it this far in my effort to halve my weight in two years' time.

I was so optimistic in those early posts. But in short order the blog posts stopped, and the 30 initial pounds I'd lost came right back on. Then toward the end of 2009, optimism rebounded. And I finally was able to back my optimism with real strategies that would help me deal with those troublesome undercurrents that have time and time again bridled the otherwise wild, passionate man who longed to be victorious over lethargy, pessimism and addiction to comfort.

I'll be talking more about some of the strategies I've used to overcome destructive doubt. But for now, I'll leave you with a book title: Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. This book was key in helping me change my inner dialog from one of pessimism to one of hope. And I think without it my current story would not be as hopeful as it is.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My first before and after

So here it is, my first before and after posting. I call this my first because I'm not yet to my goal of beating obesity once and for all, so it's definitely not my last.

The photo on the left was taken in December 2009, when I tipped the scales at more than 400 pounds. The one on the right was taken today, December 11, 2010. My dry weight this morning was 270 pounds.

My goal? 225 pounds. And yep, I've got just 45 pounds to go!

I've gotta be honest here, y'all - looking at this picture freaks me out. I can't believe that the old pic is me! I'd love to hear what you guys think. And thanks to those of you who've been following my progress this whole time. Your encouragement is key to my continued success. I couldn't do this without you!!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tracking my progress since July

I weigh myself every day, but I only log it every once in a while. I've found logging my weight has been useful to me so I can keep track of my progress over the long term and set realistic expectations for myself.

Looking at the last 30 pounds I've lost, it's taken me about five months. I lost the first 100 in just seven. The next 50 may take me until my birthday in August next year, but if I stay on track I know I'll achieve my goal.

Here are all of my official weigh-ins since early July:

12.08.2010 (14:17): 270.0 lbs CURRENT WEIGHT
11.08.2010 (16:43): 273.0 lbs
10.29.2010 (09:10): 276.0 lbs
10.23.2010 (09:54): 278.0 lbs
10.07.2010 (08:56): 280.0 lbs
09.11.2010 (12:39): 285.0 lbs
08.29.2010 (23:41): 290.0 lbs
08.18.2010 (07:41): 292.0 lbs
08.10.2010 (09:05): 293.0 lbs
07.07.2010 (05:52): 300.0 lbs

Monday, December 6, 2010

Discovering the protein power of quinoa

As I'm no longer living by myself, I've been discovering the joy of cooking together with my partner. We enjoy perusing local groceries and farmer's markets on the weekends for the best deals on healthy and organic (preferably locally grown) foods, then going home and making big batches of mostly invented dishes to pack for our lunches, snacks and dinners to sustain us through the work week.

For the past few weeks, we've been really getting into quinoa, the seed (sometimes referred to as a grain) that nourished the mighty Incans of Peru. We've experimented with the red and white varieties, so far, and really enjoy the nuttiness of the red. Next trip to Whole Foods we plan to pick up the black. As a protein staple, we make a batch of quinoa and mix in frozen peas, then divide these up into portions that can either be added to some other recipe in the future or eaten as a stand alone side dish or afternoon snack.

Unlike wheat, rice or oats, which each lack at least one essential amino acid, quinoa is a complete source of protein. Each 100g serving packs a 4g protein punch, and only has about 120 calories, 3g of fiber and 2g of fat (the good kind). We usually eat larger serving sizes, and even eat it later in the evening (as our schedules often have us eating after 8 or 9 p.m.).

Even though it's a carb, and it isn't recommended for those losing weight to eat carbs so late in the evening, because I'm doing weight training throughout the week it's perfect for me to eat quinoa this late because its proteins are slow absorbing, like that of the milk protein casein, which feeds my muscles overnight and leaves me feeling satiated and energized in the morning.

If you haven't tried quinoa yet, you should. I'll be posting some recipes in the future as we try some. I found few good ones today and plan on sharing them soon.